I Remember Wanda

 

Trigger warning: language, racial slur


I Remember Wanda
by Carl Josehart

I remember Wanda
she’s the one who thought she was a turtle
and demanded we call her,
“Turtle”

I met Wanda when I worked at a school for
cast off children with
garbage dump lives
refuse of society

clutching her purse,
one day,
she screamed at me across
miles of misunderstanding
and missed opportunities

“Suck my cock!”
and then called me a,
“white chocolate nigger”

we used to collect
words
hurtled at us like
harpoons
the only way the
children had to
teach us about their
pain

we’d save them and
play with them
pretending we didn’t
feel the sting of these
well targeted missiles

I guess if I lived in her world
I’d be a turtle too
a hard strong shell to
protect me when
words fall like rain
and soak the soul
in silent suffering and pain

Wanda…I remember


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Freedom is Calling

 


Freedom Is Calling – Let Us Go Out To Greet It

God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, with great awe, signs and wonders. (Deuteronomy XXVI: 8)

For many of us the re-telling of the liberation of the Children of Israel from bondage echoes the stories of our struggle for liberation from persecution and hiding due to our sexual orientation. As with the telling of the Passover story, it is incumbent on each of us to consider ourselves as if each one of us personally was part of all of the struggles for liberation. To remember and honor those who gave their lives so that we might face a brighter future.

Like the Children of Israel before us we come out to freedom from bondage through a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, with great awe, signs and wonders.

With a mighty hand… We are discovering our voices and our political strength

With an outstretched arm… We are reaching out to embrace our families of origin and our families of choice

With great awe… We are reclaiming our religion and finding our spiritual home

With signs and wonders …  God set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of an eternal covenant that the waters would no more become a flood to destroy life.  We have adopted the rainbow as a symbol of our covenant to one another that hatred and bigotry will no longer be allowed to flood our world and destroy the lives of our people.

This year weak and vulnerable
Next year courageous and united in strength

This year afraid and alone
Next year comforted by the warmth of community

This year in darkness and hiding
Next year in freedom and light

This year in searching for meaning and direction
Next year leading our way toward a dream of acceptance, peace, hope and healing

-Carl Josehart
Passover, 1998


 

Fantasies

Fantasies
by Carl Josehart

Fantasies are free to fly
Up in the air and through the sky
But mortal men are earthly bound
Doomed to spend their lives on, or near, the ground

Fantasies can transcend time and space
Moving easily through centuries and across multitudes of geographies with equal grace
While the common man is trapped by place and time
Hurtled forward towards an unforgiving finishing line

Fantasies can let minds run free
That are bound and gagged by prejudice and bureaucracy
While bodies are chained to traditions on which creativity chokes
Moving in circles, like a spinning wheel’s spokes

Fantasies are free to fly
And so may our dreams if we but try
To let go our earthly desires
That fan the flames of our manmade hell’s burning fires

The Gift of Presence

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”
– Martin Buber

“Please remember, it is what you are that heals, not what you know.”
– Carl Jung


A Baby Cries

by Carl Josehart

“A busy night in the Emergency Room?”
Asks the janitor as he sweeps the floor with his broom
On each bed, separated by a flimsy curtain
Lies a life in the edge, so uncertain
Suspended, it seems, between life and death
Waiting for a verdict while holding their breath
Hoping for mercy while time flies
And in the background, a baby cries

A man dies
A wife cries
A daughter rushes by me in tears
A family sits and struggles with its fears
With each passing moment you feel the tension rise
And in the background, a baby cries

Nurses and doctors work in tandem
Tragedy seems to strike its victims at random
Sometimes the news is good and there is relief
Sometimes the news is bad and there is grief
Each person, like an actor, plays a role
And we all collude in the illusion that we have control
Through the mask, you see the weariness in their eyes
And in the background, a baby cries

And when the shift comes to an end
The play is over, no more need to pretend
It’s off to lovers, families, and friends
In the time away the soul breathes and the heart mends
Hope seems to spring anew each time I watch the sun rise
And in the background, a baby cries


Listen to Me

Listen to me
Hear me
   Hear me
      Hear what I say

Listen to me
Hear me
   Hear me!
      Hear what I say!

Listen to me
Hear me I pray
It matters not what you say when I speak…
Just that you hear what I say

- Josehart, 1984

 

Open Hearts & Open Minds

“I want to love you without clutching,
appreciate you without judging,
join you without invading,
invite you without demanding,
leave you without guilt,
criticize you without blaming,
and help you without insulting.

If I can have the same from you,
then we can truly meet and enrich each other.”

– Virginia Satir


I Understand

by Carl Josehart

“I understand,” she says with a reassuring nod
To a disheveled man who is acting quite odd
In fact, she does not understand at all
His inner world in which voices echo their unending call

“I understand,” she says with a self-confident style
Speaking with a calming voice and a pleasant smile
She sees his world in terms of illusions, delusions, and identity diffusion
He sees her world as uncaring, unresponsive and as a frightening intrusion

“I understand,” she says her decision already made
The wheels now are in motion, the course is now laid
She is confident what she has done is for the best
He’ll get the help he needs and plenty of rest

“I understand,” he manages to mumble
As he feels his world break apart and begin to crumble
She smiles having received his informed consent
He wonders why he is being punished, and how he can repent


 

The Five Freedoms

There are five freedoms:
The freedom to see and hear what is;
The freedom to say what you feel and think;
The freedom to feel what you actually feel;
The freedom to ask for what you want;
The freedom to take risks on your own behalf.

– Virginia Satir


 

Questions

by Carl Josehart

How right is right?
When can you be sure that justice is on your side?
How much certainty and confidence masquerade as pride?
Are the rights of the one always second to the good of the many?
Can you ever say no more; enough; she’s suffered plenty?

I’m, trained
I have experience
I know my job

They’re vulnerable
And confused
Some sit quietly and sob

When is an adult not an adult?
How can you take away the right to choose?
Is there a choice where no one will lose?
How can you maintain her dignity and show respect
And still abide by a decision you know is correct?

They’re homicidal
And suicidal
And hearing voices

I’m constrained by legalities
And treatment modalities
And limited choices

When is finished really finished?
How do you turn off the questions that dance in your head?
How do you put it behind you when it’s time for bed?
Do we ever have the luxury to know our choice was for the best?
If I err will my conscience forgive me and allow me to rest?


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Legacy

Legacy
by Carl Josehart

When enemies attack
and our brothers and sister are in danger
Let our legacy be courage

When the world cries out in pain and anguish
sorrow threatening to overcome hope
Let our legacy be compassion and comfort

When passions flare and cry out for blood
threatening the fabric of society
Let our legacy be justice

When our faith falters
and God seems distant
Let our legacy be prayer

When the world is lost in darkness
and we stumble to find direction
Let our legacy be the light of courage, compassion, justice and prayer

-2001


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